tv Political Capital With Al Hunt Bloomberg March 29, 2014 9:30am-10:01am EDT
>> this week on "political capital" -- john mccain talks about putin and the usa. the controversial ruling -- the obamacare contraceptive ruling and we debate a snowden pardon and chris christie. ♪ we begin the program with arizona senator john mccain. it is so good to have you here. was the president's trip to europe a failure? >> i am not sure it was a failure because it depends on your expectations.
i expected little or nothing from the europeans. i really did. their dependence on energy -- everything about their attitudes, their slashes of their defense spending. >> russian troops are amassed at the ukrainian border. do you expect putin to strike soon? >> i predicted he would go to crimea after yanukovych was driven out of ukraine because sabastopal is the naval base which gives the russians access to the mediterranean. if you look at putin's vision and ambition to restore the russian abroad, he couldn't do it without that base. i did not predict he would move into ukraine. i still think that he won't. but, al, you don't keep troops massed on the border of a country for no reason. if you had asked me about three or four days ago i would've said, i believe not. now i am not sure because he has these troops -- it is very expensive to keep troops massed
in that fashion. you don't mass troops on a border of a country unless you have some intention. the consequences -- he must be thinking about the cost-benefit ratio. >> you've called for military assistance to the ukraine. do you worry that might incite him? >> isn't the flip side true? if they don't get assistance, wouldn't that encourage him to exercise further adventurism? isn't there a moral situation here, al? the ukrainians will not fight over crimea. they say they will fight over the mainland of ukraine. if they are going to fight, and i will take their word for it, why not give them some weapons with which to defend themselves? symbolically, it means so much. they look to us. one thing americans do not understand is how much it matters to these countries what
we say and do. if we say we are going to give you some defensive weapons and we are going to assist you, that would boost their morale even if it had little or no effect. putin's calculation has to be what is the cost if he goes into eastern ukraine? there is another theory we need to watch out for and that is he goes across the south of ukraine, all the way across to moldova therby cutting ukraine any access to the black sea. that may be one of his plans that he is thinking seriously about. >> if he does that and goes into ukraine and maybe georgia even -- you have said no american boots on the ground but if he does all of that and keeps going, could there come a time
where there has to be an american-led nato force there? or is that off the table? >> i would have to say in moldova because they are not members of nato, i think it would be very questionable. i think it would have to be some kind of consideration but i doubt the europeans would agree to it. in the case of the baltic countries who are under pressure from putin, they are now members of nato article five which says attack on one means attack on all. it would be hard for me to believe that there would not be a nato response to an outright invasion. i just can't believe we wouldn't have some kind of military response. it makes me believe that he probably wouldn't do it directly. he is trying to undermine these countries. >> you have been skeptical of the economic sanctions, but the world bank says it will push russia into a recession. there is going to be a huge surge in capital flight. the wall street guys have told
me that new investments are not going in there. isn't that going to have to affect putin? >> long term, i thought it was a pretty good line. russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. they are now the 13th largest economy. their long-term prospects are abysmal no matter if they went into ukraine or not because it is a country based on corruption and autocracy. in the short term, his approval went up dramatically in russia because he is being a tough guy. if he goes into eastern ukraine, he is going to have some significant gains there. >> the economic impact if any will be -- >> i am not sure how the world reacts. one of the reasons why there was such a response by the europeans is the strong economic ties between germany and the other countries.
one of our long-term strategies has got to be -- this has been widely discussed -- is our assistance in getting them into energy independence from russia. >> should pressure be applied to american companies, big ones like general electric and exxon-mobil, they have big investments in russia. should there be pressure for them to pull out? >> yes. at least suspension of business. something that would be a punishment. >> should congress and the administration pressure them? >> if we declare sanctions of a certain kind with their companies and corporations would inhibit their way to do business. i know that is a tough call. i know we don't want to hurt own economy. what are the consequences of putin being able to act in a way
that -- these sanctions would only be if he goes much further. after the russian invasion of afghanistan, jimmy carter, admittedly not my favorite american president, he took some pretty tough steps, tough measures at that time. i think we have to just understand that if we let this kind of thing unchecked, it allows putin a free reign, but what is the message around the world? >> you've suggested that obama has been too weak. you look at history. two of your favorite presidents -- dwight eisenhower could not stop the tanks rolling into hungary. ronald reagan -- they declared martial law in poland and he couldn't stop that. isn't it true that when russia decides to move on its neighbors, we really can't do
anything about it? >> they were behind the iron curtain. they were part of the then soviet union. ronald reagan, in the words of margaret thatcher, he won the cold war without firing a shot. strength.ugh we are slashing our defense spending dramatically. chuck hagel testified about our cuts in defense the day the chinese announced an increase of 12.2% in their defense spending. there are ways of showing strength without having to get into an open conflict. i think history shows the weaker you are, the more likely it is for aggressors to misbehave. >> thank you for being with us today. obamacare enrollment and a critical decision by the nlrb. ♪
>> welcome back. obamacare deadline extended and college athletes unionized. margaret, let me start with you. the obama administration extended the deadline for healthcare sign up. is that good news so that more people can sign up? or bad news because it is another delay? >> it is allowing them to hit that 6 million target that they wanted and get closer to that 7 million target. there is some concern as these delays continue to pile up that
it will affect the program. >> we know they will have about 6.2 million people signed up. that is really not bad. do we know -- how many of those people are young and healthy and pay their premiums? >> we don't know yet. it is about 25%. we aren't sure how close they are to the 40% which is the ratio they want for the system to pay for itself. insurers are looking at the federal sign-ups but also what is happening state-by-state because that is what makes the difference. >> some states are doing great like california and some states like maryland are just doing awful. >> it will take some time even after this march 31 -- >> it all depends how it affects insurance premiums. >> it will. have they priced it right? it is what they went out of the gate with in this first effort. >> i want to switch to phil for a minute.
extraordinary -- national labor relations board judge who ruled this week that northwestern football players can unionize. that would be a huge deal. >> i think this is both on the microscale in the sense of if players are allowed to unionize. this ruling is the start of something. it still comes down to washington. this is a regional director. it only applies to private schools. they are saying these northwestern football players can hold a vote to unionize. they are considered university employees. we have seen momentum moving against the ncaa for more rights for student-athletes. this is by far the largest. >> the judge noted that this is not like a music or chemistry scholarship person. these players work 50 hours a week, mandatory. >> that is the biggest thing missing from this debate. the lack of understanding about
the effort these players are putting in. four hours at practice, at the weight room, another hour at the training table. you haven't even factored in class yet. there is no time to work even if the ncaa allows you to get that job you wanted. >> unless you go to ohio state, you don't have to worry about that. >> hey, hey. >> an even bigger case, a former ucla basketball player says they should get paid. >> he is the lead plaintiff in a class action suit about players getting paid for their likeness. we are talking about videogames and their jerseys. everybody knows what number they are buying, but the name is not on the back. that trial starts in june. bigger implications than the union issue. >> the ncaa and the colleges have a great scam.
they get over $1 billion apiece from basketball and football. they have the jerseys. they pay coaches far more than they pay college presidents. they build stadiums and they don't want anyone else to be part of that scam. >> scam is your word. first, as everybody who works in washington knows, if you try to mess around with a multibillion-dollar negotiation arerganization, and you going after the money, they're going to fight back. you mentioned ohio state. the ohio state athletic director said if we were dealing with these issues with players in past years whether it be increasing stipends or promising health care, maybe we would've headed this off. because the ncaa was not willing to engage in dialogue, they are up against it. >> let me go back to the president. he had his trip overseas this week. europe, the vatican, saudi arabia. did he meet expectations? did it matter?
>> his meeting with the pope was a high point for him. the one shining light in an otherwise bleak landscape. the white house feels good about it. they feel they have galvanized western allies on the issue of energy independence and issues about nato funding, defense funding. you still have thousands of troops massed along the border of ukraine. no guarantee that russia is going to step back. >> let's turn to the nsa surveillance. obama has proposed something in the house. mike rogers proposed something. is anything going to happen in congress, phil? >> there is a move for a legislative debate. >> to cut back on the spying of americans. >> how that looks -- there are different segments with different positions on this. far from a sure thing. not necessarily a slam dunk.
>> they could just be -- if congress moves either way, will they move to make it even tougher for surveillance or would they go the other way and favor the nsa? >> they say the pendulum has swung more towards cutting back the nsa's ability. they are trying to thread that needle. we will add restrictions of the program. we will make them check with courts before doing anything but we don't want to take away the capabilities. >> what does the white house do? >> the white house is trying to keep the program going so they have the ability to keep doing what they have been doing. they want to say that they want to get this out of the government and get the courts more involved, but if congress does not agree, be able to preserve exactly what they do. >> thank you both. another big obamacare decision by the supreme court. we will be right back. ♪
high court. greg, can for-profit companies deny employees contraceptive coverage because of their religious belief? >> it appears that corporations would be able to claim some religious rights. it is not clear how this case comes out. the obama administration is making the case that it is not just the rights of the religious corporation but also the employees. the women who have a statutory right to get contraceptive coverage. it is not clear how the court will weigh those two factors. >> when that contraceptive decision in 1965 -- you had nine men who had no idea what they were talking about. this time there are three women justices. they were a forceful presence in that. >> we may have a gender divide in this case. the female justices were the ones who were most favorable to the administration.
this case really does have that gender aspect to it because it is contraceptives for women that are an issue. you may see that come out in the court's opinions. >> a familiar refrain, anthony kennedy is the swing vote most people say. does that make sense? could you see which way he was leaning? >> it does make sense, but we did think that two years ago he would be the swing vote. chief justice roberts came out as the swing vote, upholding the core of obamacare. this is a little bit of a different issue. the chief justice in the argument seems very much in the side of the corporation. justice kennedy did seem like the middle justice. not clear to me how he is going to come out. he had some sympathies with the corporation, but he also did express concern about the female employees. >> explain to me because i am limited in my knowledge. i understand why catholic hospitals have beliefs. how does an arts and crafts company have religious beliefs?
>> it is a family-owned company. a christian family that wants to say they want to run their company as they think the bible guides them to do. they close the store on sunday. they play christian music in the stores. they say they think these forms of contraception are abortion inducing -- scientists disagree with that. they say that is their view and they don't think they can morally facilitate those contraceptives. >> this is another test for the affordable care act. it's not the last one, is it? >> no. this would not hit the law with a fatal blow. there was another case that was argued the same day that would really deal a big blow if it goes against the administration. the issue is the subsidies for the people that buy it on exchanges. the statute only allows
subsidies for people who buy them on state-run exchanges. since the federal government is now running most of the exchanges, that would mean that for most people buying coverage if they are at a certain income level they would not get the subsidies that they thought they would provide them. >> margaret, an internal review commissioned by the new jersey governor chris christie absolves him of any blame or knowledge of the george washington bridge lane closings scandal. is that good enough? >> christie knew nothing about lane closures, his lawyers say. it is not persuasive and an unforced error. the last thing you want to make your big splash is that you lawyered up to exonerate yourself.
his interview with diane sawyer was quite good. his press conference months ago was good. this does a really bad thing. it tries to turn bridget anne kelly into the total fall girl saying that she unnecessarily said she had a relationship with one the people. she was broken up with and was unhappy. making it seem as if she is the one doing something that no one else would know about. i see that fall person here in terms of the christie people. >> are they making her the fall person? >> this is an example of what the left is trying to do with chris christie is what the rights tried to do with benghazi. benghazi hasn't stuck to secretary clinton. i frankly don't see this sticking to chris christie either. we can talk about the credibility. the issue is not the report. the issue is the left's obsession with chris christie and their obsession with trying to take him down. they realize that he is going to be a strong candidate for 2016.
i think that is the bigger issue. the left's obsession with chris christie and this bridge issue. i think a lot of this passes by the time we get to the election. >> let me turn to edward snowden. jimmy carter raised the notion of pardoning him. >> insane. the notion they would consider a pardon is ridiculous. first of all, he has to be tried. this person has been an enemy of the state. i think even to consider the notion that we might pardon him is absolutely a testament to where our country is going. >> if we brought him back, would you throw the book at him? >> i would throw half a book at him. there are things we want to know from him. what does he have that we don't know about? if he didn't compromise our agents or other americans abroad, then i do think he can cut a deal, not a pardon.
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